Singular propositions and modes of presentation

Disputatio (1):05-21 (1996)
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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to survey a number of features which are constitutive of the Millian account of attitude-ascription and which I take to be irremediably defective. The features in question, some of which have not been fully appreciated, relate mainly to the failure of that account to accommodate certain fundamental aspects of our ordinary practise of attitude attribution. I take it that one’s definitive method of assessment of a given semantical theory consists in checking out whether or not the theory is able to accommodate our pre-theoretical linguistic intuitions; to use Keith Donnellan’s phrase, such intuitions are the bottom line in philosophical argumentation about language. And I argue that the Millian appeal to modes of presentation taken both as semantically irrelevant and external to the singular contents believed, known, etc., as well as the associated pragmatic strategy employed to discard our ground-floor judgements, are insufficient to palliate the manifest implausibility of a number of Millian descriptions of our attitudes, especially descriptions of our second-order attitudes.

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João Branquinho
Universidade de Lisboa

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